Willapa Bay GRP

  • Interim update: 2003
  • Last full updated: 2020
  • Public Comment: GRPs@ecy.wa.gov

Table of Contents


Site Description

This section provides an overview of the area’s physical features, hydrology, climate and winds, and tides and currents in the Willapa Bay GRP planning area, and includes an overview of the oil spill risks in the region. The Willapa Basin sits among the coastal hills along the Pacific Ocean just north of the Columbia River. The Basin covers more than 1000 square miles including the Willapa Bay estuary with over 100 miles of shoreline. Pacific County located on the Southwest Pacific coast of Washington state, encompasses 1,223 square miles and the first embayment north of the Columbia River. The Bay is separate from the expanse of the Pacific Ocean by the 28-mile Long Beach Peninsula to the west. The Willapa Hills are to the East, the Columbia River at the South, Grays Harbor bay to the north, and nestled inside Willapa Bay at the South at over 8 square miles and accessible by boat only is Long Island. Rich with cultural history, the Chinook, Chehalis, and Kwalhioqua peoples lived and hunted in the area for at least 2000 years. They camped, fished, gathered oysters and clams, and hunted on Long Island. Today the Shoalwater Tribe remain in the area.

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Willapa Bay is located within Pacific County, which is a predominantly rural and forested. Federal lands occur in the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) that include 17,000 acres, while much of the surrounding forested land is owned by timber companies. In Washington, the planning area resides within Water Resource Inventory Area Willapa (WRIA 24). The area includes a wide variety of natural resources, including productive forest lands, cranberry and other agricultural lands, a large bay with tidal flats suited to shellfish operations, wildlife refuges, and ocean dunes.

The communities within the area include Raymond and South Bend situated on the Willapa River, which empties into Willapa Bay from the northeast. North at the entry into the Bay is North Cove and Tokeland, Bay Center is on the east side of the Bay, while Illwaco, Long Beach and Seaview are in the south area of the Bay, and finally Oysterville, Ocean Park and Nahcotta are on the west side of the Bay on the Long Beach peninsula. Population is mostly in Raymond and South Bend on the Willapa River, and Illwaco, Long Beach and Seaview at the south of the Long Beach peninsula.

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Physical Features

The opening to Willapa Bay is from the East, passing Shoalwater and Tokeland at the north and faces into the confluence with the North and Willapa Rivers. The opening into the Bay is ~7 miles wide from the tip of the Long Beach Peninsula at Ledbetter Point across to land. Overall, there are shallow extensive tide flats and expansive saltmarshes inside the Bay, punctuated by Long Island that is accessible by boat only, though the top of the island is located ~14.5 miles south of the Bay entrance. More specifically, Long Island is ~6.2 miles long and ~2.5 miles wide at the widest point. From the southeast end of Long Island ~0.5 miles over to the mainland is the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge situated in southeast Willapa Bay. Travel south along the East side of the Bay past the Bone River Natural Area and the Naiwiakum River located North of Bay Center. Tucked in south of the Naiwiakum River are the north, middle and south forks of the Palix River. At the Palix River South Fork, the land extends into the Bay where the small community of Bay Center is situated. Further south and past additional small tributaries, the land extends into the Bay south of the Nehmah River, and above the Naselle River.

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The maximum width of the Bay is ~8 miles at mid-bay above Long Island. The largest channel inside the Bay is on the east side of Long Island known as the Stanley Channel, connected at the bottom of the Bay to a narrower channel on the west side of Long Island. At the bottom of the Bay, about 4.5-miles of land separates the Bay from the Columbia River.

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The drainage basin of the Willapa River encompasses ~720 square mile, including most of Pacific County and portions of Grays Harbor, Lewis and Wahkiakum counties. Willapa Bay consists of a complex hydrologic water regime with minimal freshwater inputs, though there are several medium sized river channels originating in the Willapa Hills including the North, Willapa, Naiwaikum, Nemah and the Naselle Rivers that enter the Bay from locations at the north to the southeast. The Naselle River provides roughly one-fifth of the total freshwater input into the bay; the largest rivers are the North that joins the Willapa River entering Willapa Channel from the north, and the Naselle that enters the Bay from the southeast. Freshwater inputs from precipitation events mainly arrive during the winter when overall water demands are the lowest. Additional inputs are from the Cedar, Palix, and Bear Rivers, and Smith Creek. Pacific Ocean water enters the Willapa Channel and then leaves again, as on a counterclockwise conveyor belt, most visible at channel junctions. In places, incoming and outgoing water masses appear to move through each other rather than past each other.

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Annual precipitation in the Willapa Watershed is frequent and heavy in winter and ranges from 60 inches per year along the coastal lowlands, to 140 inches per year in the Willapa Hills. The Willapa watershed does not include any large mountains with glaciers or regular accumulations of significant snowpack; therefore, drainages tend to have peak streamflows in winter. This means that groundwater and surface water are least available when water demands are the highest. Precipitation usually reaches its monthly maximums in November to January: Willapa Harbor 14”, Raymond 13.7”, and Long Beach 12.5”. Annual snowfall is typically very light if any.

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Climate and Winds

Windward slopes in the Willapa Hills bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Columbia River to the south, frequently experience strong winds during winter months. The Willapa Hills, elevation at 1,000 to 3,000 feet elevation, form a continuous ridge from the Chehalis River valley to the Columbia River. This area receives the full force of storms moving inland from over the ocean, thus heavy precipitation and winds of gale force occur during the winter season. Wind data from a well-exposed site on a ridge (elevation 2,000 feet) near the ocean indicates that wind velocities in excess of 100 mph occur in the higher elevations almost every winter.

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The Willapa Bay area is a temperate region that experiences cold winters and mild summers. Summer temperatures are usually in the upper 60s°F. The average maximum temperature in July is near 70°F along the coast and 75°F in the foothills, and minimum temperatures are near 50°F. In winter, the warmer areas are near the coast. In January, maximum temperatures range from 43°-48°F and minimum temperatures from 32°-38° F. October to April had 15-18 days of rain a month, and May to September 4 -11 days of rain a month. Winter lows are generally 30°F to low 40°F. Annual precipitation varies slightly throughout the area from 85” near South Bend, to 79” in Long Beach. Wind in the area are typically out of the E/NE from April through September. From October through March, winds are predominantly out of the E/SE. November tends to have the strongest winds at >20 mph and December has the windiest days, and April has a fair number of windy days.

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Tides and Currents

The tides in Willapa Bay are mixed-semidiurnal, two unequal high tides and two unequal low tides. The mean daily tidal range varies by ∼20 percent over the length of the estuary and ∼50 percent over the spring–neap cycle when the difference between high and low tide is the least. The mean tidal range for Willapa Bay is from -2 feet extreme low to +12 feet extreme high, and the diurnal tidal range is typically from 8.4 – 9.4 feet. Channel depths range from <30 – 50 feet with maximum depths of 75 – 77 feet below mean low water.

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Spring-neap tide, just after the first or third quarters of the moon when there is least difference between high and low water, had variations in tidal amplitude that can force large changes in estuarine circulation and change the dynamics of vertical mixing. The Eastern boundary systems with narrow continental shelves and fluctuating wind forcing, varies in the strength of upwelling. Upwelling and downwelling, when wind causes surface water to build up along the coastline, the Columbia River plume enters the Bay. Upwelling when winds blow across the sea surface pushes water away from Willapa Bay and water rises up from beneath the surface, replacing the diverging surface water. This process is the primary source of estuarine nutrients and primary production. The rate of ocean-estuary exchange is a very basic control on the Willapa Bay ecology.

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Risk Assessment

The Willapa Bay area is plentiful in natural, cultural, and economic resources, all at risk of injury from oil spills. Potential oil spill risks to these resources include outer coast large commercial vessels, waterfront facilities, road transportation, aircraft, recreational boating, and fishing vessels. Other oil spill risks including gas stations, milling facilities, oil terminals, non-tank vessels, and motorized vehicles. This section briefly discusses these risks and how they could impact the GRP planning area.

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Waterfront Facilities: At the north shoreside of Willapa Bay is the Shoalwater Bay Tribe at SR 105 and Tokeland Rd. Commercial Shellfish businesses reside on the waterfront, and fishing and aquaculture occurs all year. Aquaculture industries are a major shoreline activity, and heavily influenced by upland and as marine activities. No fuel transfers occur at aquaculture facilities, but spills can occur from moored vessels or from vessels involved in cargo or other routine operations. On the Willapa River, the community of South Bend is home to waterfront shellfish processing, boat repair, lumber processing, and commercial fishing. There are three marinas on the shores of Willapa Bay: Port of Willapa Harbor at Bay Center, Tokeland Marina at Tokeland (Toke Point), and Port of Peninsula at Oysterville on the Long Island Peninsula.

Commercial Vessels: A spill from a commercial ship transiting the outer coast can oil the coastline, while those that transiting the Columbia River can affect Willapa Bay during upwelling as water pushes up into the Bay from the south, or enters the Bay at the north from the outer coast affecting the coastline and sensitive resources throughout the planning area. Spills can also occur from commercial fishing and workboats.

Road Transportation: One state route and one U.S. highway are present in the planning area, SR-105 and US-101. Vehicle traffic on roadways pose an oil spill risk in areas where they run adjacent to shorelines, or cross over lakes, rivers, creeks, and ditches that drain into Willapa Bay. A vehicle spill onto a bridges or roadways can cause oil to flow from hardened surfaces into water. Commercial trucks can contain hundreds to thousands of gallons of fuel and oil, especially fully loaded tank trucks, and may carry almost any kind of cargo, including hazardous substances or other materials that might injure sensitive resources if spilled. Smaller vehicle accidents pose a risk as well, commensurate to the volume of fuel they carry. Vehicle numbers on state highways typically increase in summer months as tourists visit the area.

Aircraft: There is a potential for aircraft failures during inbound and outbound flights that may result in fuel releases to water. Three airports and a heliport are located in the planning area.

Willapa Harbor Airport owned by the Port of Willapa Harbor generally used for transient, local and military aviation, is on SR105 six miles West of Raymond. Willapa Harbor Hospital private use hospital heliport on US-101 is located five miles West of Raymond in South Bend. Martin Airport privately owned is located on the Long Beach peninsula Northeast of Nahcotta, and the Ilwaco Airport is a public airport owned by the Port of Ilwaco.


Recreational Boating and Fishing Vessels: Accidents involving recreational watercraft and fishing vessels in the planning area have the potential to result in spills of a few gallons up to thousands of gallons of gasoline, diesel, or other oil. Examples of such accidents might include vessel collisions, allisions, groundings, fires, sinking, or explosions. The unintentional discharge of oily bilge waste is also a concern and could impact sensitive resources in the planning area if released.

Other Oil Spill Risks: Other potential oil spill risks include fuel storage areas (including waste oil storage), road run-off during rain, on-shore or near shore activities where heavy equipment is being operated or stored, and the migration of spilled oil through soil on lands adjacent to marine waters, or streams that drain to and from Willapa Bay.

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Resources at Risk

This section provides a summary of natural, cultural, and economic resources at risk in the vicinity of Willapa Bay and the adjacent coastal waters. It provides general information on habitat, fish, and wildlife resources, and locations in the area where sensitive natural resource concerns have been identified. It offers a summary of cultural resources that include fundamental procedures for the discovery of cultural artifacts and human skeletal remains. General information about flight restrictions, wildlife deterrence, and oiled wildlife is located in Section 6.5. This section is purposely broad in scope and should not be considered comprehensive. Some of the sensitive resources described in this section cannot be addressed because it is not possible to conduct effective response activities in these locations. Additional information from private organizations or federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies should also be sought during spills.

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This gives general information about the area during the first phase of a spill response. During an actual incident, more information about resources at risk will be available from the Environmental Unit within the Planning Section.

Note: specific resource concerns related to areas that already have designated protection strategies may be found in the “Resources at Risk” column of the Response Strategies and Priorities section matrices that describe the individual strategies.

The information provided in this section can be used in:

  •  Assisting the Environmental Unit (EU) and Operations in developing ad hoc response strategies.
  • Providing resource-at-risk “context” to responders, clean-up workers, and others during the initial phase of a spill response in the GRP
  • Briefing responders and incident command staff that may be unfamiliar with sensitive resource concerns in the GRP
  • Providing background information for personnel involved in media presentations and public outreach during a spill
  • Providing information on benthic and water column species or cultural resources present to assist in planning for oils with the potential to sink or

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Natural Resources at Risk – Summary

This area contains a wide variety of aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. These habitats support many of Washington’s anadromous salmonid species as well as a complex diversity of other wildlife including mammals, birds, and amphibians. Due to their life histories and/or behaviors, some of these species are unlikely to be directly oiled during a spill incident but may be disturbed by other operations such as cleanup, reconnaissance, or fire suppression activities. Some of the bird species are resident throughout the year, but many others seasonally migrate through this area.

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Portions of the estuary are under active commercial shellfish aquaculture (primarily oysters). While much of tidelands are privately owned, commercial shellfish beds provide much the same habitat benefits to native fish and shellfish as do natural beds.

Several of the species found in this area have been classified under the Federal Endangered Species Act or by the Washington State Fish and Wildlife commission.

Classification types are:

  • Federal Endangered (FE)
  • Federal Threatened (FT)
  • Federal Candidate (FC)
  • State Endangered (SE)
  • State Threatened (ST)
  • State Sensitive (SS)

Federal and State Threatened and Endangered species that may occur within this area, at some time of year, include:


  • American white pelican [ST]
  • common loon [SS]
  • marbled murrelet [FT/SE]
  • northern spotted owl [FT/SE]
  • sandhill crane [SE]
  • short-tailed albatross [FE]
  • snowy plover [FT/SE]
  • streaked horned lark [FT/SE]
  • tufted puffin [SE]
  • yellow-billed cuckoo [FT/SE]


  • blue whale [FE/SE]
  • fin whale [FE/SE]
  • gray whale (eastern north Pacific) [SS]
  • gray whale (western North Pacific) [FE/SS]
  • humpback whale (Central American DPS) [FE/SE]
  • humpback whale (Mexican DPS) [FT/SE]
  • killer whale (southern resident) [FE/SE]
  • right whale (north Pacific) [FE/SE]
  • sei whale [FE/SE]
  • sperm whale [FE/SE]


  • bull trout [FT]
  • eulachon [FT]
  • green sturgeon


  • green sea turtle [FT/ST]
  • leatherback sea turtle [FE/SE]
  • loggerhead sea turtle


  • Oregon silverspot butterfly [FT/SE]

Critical habitats:
These are the specific areas, occupied by an endangered or threatened species at the time it was listed, that contain the physical or biological features that are essential to the conservation of that species – and that may need special management or protection.

Critical habitats may also include areas that were not occupied by the species at the time of listing but are essential to its conservation.The following species have federally designated critical habitats within this area:

  • green sturgeon
  • leatherback sea turtle
  • marbled murrelet
  • snowy plover
  • streaked-horned lark
  • humpback whale (Central American population)
  • humpback whale (Mexican population)

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General Resource Concerns


  • A large portion of the bay is composed of intertidal and shallow subtidal mud/sand flats. These habitats are rich in benthic organisms, creating important foraging areas for salmon and other fishes, crabs, and
  • Extensive areas of eelgrass in the bay serve as important nursery and foraging areas for crab, salmonids, other fishes, and
  • Oyster beds/reefs and surface deposits of shell fragments from oysters and soft- shell clams support high densities of crabs, benthic invertebrates and
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  • Extensive areas of salt marsh occur throughout the bay, predominantly in association with stream and river mouths. Salt marshes support a diverse array of birds, insect and fish and wildlife
  • Several rivers and smaller tributary streams flow into this estuary. These act as important salmon migration routes and spawning areas, as well as providing rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids. The associated riparian scrub and woodlands play a crucial role in supporting a large diversity and abundance of songbird species as breeding, migrating, and overwintering
  • Offshore waters (between the 20m and 200m isobaths) of the region seasonally support extremely large numbers of seabirds. These waters are important to marine fish and support both resident and migrating marine mammals. Regional and localized oceanographic conditions can greatly influence the temporal distribution and abundance of these
  • Sand beaches, the primary habitat type along the south coast, provide habitat for razor clams, as well as for the vast numbers of shorebirds that stop over to feed and rest on the outer coast and its estuaries during the spring and fall
  • The subtidal habitats in this area consist primarily of:
    • Soft sediments, such as clay, mud, sand, and gravel. These areas are broad flat and relatively level. Animals that tend to live on the surface of these habitats may include sea cucumber, sea stars, crustaceans (such as crab and shrimp), and bottom fish such as skate, cod, and the flat fishes. These soft sediment habitats also support shellfish and other invertebrates including bivalves, worms, brittle stars, shrimplike crustaceans. The burrowing or foraging activities of these animals may penetrate up to one meter below the subsurface
    • Nutrient rich nearshore waters (from the shoreline out to the 20m isobath) sustain a highly productive food web that includes fish, seabirds and marine mammals. These areas also serve as habitat for wide-ranging fish such as salmon, forage fish (herring, smelt, and sandlance), sharks, and a large number and variety of birds that utilize this habitat as foraging areas. These waters also support both resident and migrating marine mammals. Regional and localized oceanographic conditions can greatly influence the distribution and abundance of all these resources.

Fish and Shellfish:

  • The estuary is important nursery and foraging area for juvenile salmonids including stocks of fall chinook; fall chum, coho, winter steelhead, coastal cutthroat and bull
  • Herring spawning occurs in eelgrass beds near Long Island, east of Oysterville and south of Grassy
  • The estuary provides important habitat for a number of marine fish, including juvenile English sole, eulachon, lingcod, sturgeon and starry
  • The shallow areas of the estuary serve as nursery areas for juvenile Dungeness crab, while the deeper areas support commercial fisheries on this species. Crabs that rear in this bay contribute significantly to the adult population along the outer
  • Portions of the estuary are under active commercial oyster culture. While much of tidelands and oysters are privately owned, commercial oyster beds provide much the same habitat benefits to native fish and shellfish as do natural
  • Other shellfish occur throughout this area. Razor clams occur along the outer sand beaches and along the entrance to the bay. Eastern softshell clams, horse clams, Manila clams and cockles are found at various locations throughout the bay.


  • Willapa Bay is a shorebird site of international significance, supporting up to 100,000 birds during the spring migration, as well as large numbers of fall- migrating and wintering shorebirds. Leadbetter Point is one of only 3 nesting areas in Washington for the federally threatened snowy plover.
  • Large concentrations of brown pelicans feed and roost in the mouth of the bay from mid-to-late summer. The state-listed American white pelican may also be found in the
  • Very large waterfowl concentrations occur throughout the bay from fall through
  • The waters at the entrance to Willapa Bay are a regular feeding area for migrating and resident seabirds and marine waterfowl.
  • Bald eagles nest in the region and forage throughout the bay. Peregrine falcons are common during peak shorebird abundance in spring.
  • Willapa Bay is home to thousands of harbor seals from mid-spring through early fall, with most of the larger haulouts occurring in the north part of the bay. Willapa Bay also is one of the largest seal pupping areas in the state, with pupping occurring throughout the
  • Various species of whales and dolphins regularly occur in this region’s nearshore zone. The entire U.S. population of gray whales migrates through Washington waters in the spring and fall, with many animals stopping to feed in shallow coastal waters during the northward migration in spring. Some individuals will typically leave the main migration and inhabit Washington’s nearshore waters throughout the summer. Humpback whales [FE] are coastal residents during the summer months, tending to concentrate in feeding areas offshore of Washington’s north coast. Killer whales (Orca) sighted off the outer coast are most commonly transient or offshore pods, but southern resident killer whale [FE] pods may also be seen in the area. Harbor porpoise are common year- round and may be found from the surf zone out to several miles offshore. Both minke whales and Dall’s porpoise occasionally occur in nearshore waters. Numerous other species of whales or dolphins occur further offshore.

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Overview

Note: see area maps at end of this section. May include sensitive sites in adjoining GRP regions.

  1. Twin Harbors Beach (Cape Shoalwater to Grayland): Razor clam habitat. Snowy plover and streaked horned lark nesting habitat, overwintering habitat, and designated critical habitat. Major shorebird concentration area late summer through spring. Washington State Park recreation areas (State Park).
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  1. Tokeland/Cedar River and vicinity: Salt marsh and wetland habitats, and eelgrass beds. Waterfowl and shorebird concentrations (fall through spring). Snowy plover and streaked horned lark nesting habitat, overwintering habitat, and designated critical habitat along North Cove. Salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Shellfish and Dungeness crab. Tribal lands and resources.
  2. North River Estuary: Salt marsh and wetland habitats, and eelgrass beds. Salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Heron nesting area. Shellfish and Dungeness crab. Marbled murrelet presence. Shorebird and waterfowl concentrations. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Smith Creek and Willapa Estuary Wildlife Areas.
  3. Willapa River Estuary (Range Point to South Bend): Salt marsh and wetland habitat. Salmonid (including bull trout) spawning and rearing areas. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Shorebird concentrations. WDFW Smith Creek and Willapa Estuary Wildlife
  4. Bone River Estuary: Salt marsh and wetland habitats, and eelgrass beds. Salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Shorebird concentrations. Marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl presence. Shellfish and Dungeness crab. Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Natural Area
  5. Palix River Estuary: Salt marsh and wetland habitats, and eelgrass beds. Salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl presence. Shorebird concentrations. Shellfish and Dungeness crab. WDFW Palix River Wildlife
  6. Nemah River Estuary: Salt marsh habitats and eelgrass beds. Salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Shorebird concentrations (primarily spring and fall).
  7. Naselle River Estuary: Salt marsh habitat. Salmonid spawning and rearing areas. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Shorebird concentrations (primarily spring and fall). Marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl
  8. Shoalwater Bay and Bear River Estuary: Salt marsh habitat. Salmonid, eulachon, and marine fish spawning and rearing areas. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Shorebird concentrations (primarily spring and fall). Bald eagle nesting and feeding area. Harbor seal haulouts. Shellfish. US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge.
  9. Outer Long Beach Peninsula (Leadbetter Point to Cape Disappointment): Razor clam habitat. Snowy plover and streaked horned lark nesting and overwintering habitat. Major shorebird concentration area late summer through spring. Oregon silverspot butterfly presence. State
  10. Long Island and vicinity: Salt marsh and wetland habitats, and eelgrass beds. Herring spawning habitat northwest of island. Marbled murrelet nesting area and historic northern spotted owl nest site. Bald eagle nesting and feeding area and great blue heron rookery. Shorebird and waterfowl concentration area (primarily spring and fall). USFWS National Wildlife Refuge.
  11. Leadbetter Point: Saltmarsh habitats and eelgrass beds. Herring spawning habitat to east and south. Snowy plover and streaked horned lark nesting habitat, overwintering habitat, and designated critical habitat. Waterfowl concentrations (fall through spring). Marbled murrelet presence. Major shorebird concentration area late summer through spring. Bald eagle nesting and feeding area and great blue heron rookery. USFWS National Wildlife Refuge; State
  12. Willapa Bay Entrance Shoals and Islands: Major resting and feeding area for brown pelicans and other seabirds. Several large harbor seal haulouts. Gray whale feeding area (spring and early summer). Dungeness crab. Shorebird concentration area (primarily spring and fall).

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Specific Geographic Areas of Concern – Maps and Descriptions

Figure 1: Specific geographic areas of concern for Willapa Bay.

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Cultural Resources at Risk – Summary

Culturally significant resources are present within the planning area. Information regarding the type and location of cultural resources is maintained by the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (WDAHP). This sensitive information is made available to the Washington Department of Ecology for oil spill preparedness and response planning. The Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) or Cultural Resource Departments of local tribes (see Table below) may also be able to provide information on cultural resources at risk in the area and should be contacted, along with WDAHP, through normal trustee notification processes when significant oil spills, or smaller spills above reportable thresholds, occur in the area.

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During a spill response, after the Unified Command is established, information related to specific archeological concerns will be coordinated through the Environmental Unit. In order to ensure that tactical response strategies do not inadvertently harm culturally sensitive sites, WDAHP should be consulted before disturbing any soil or sediment during a response action, including submerged soils or sediments. WDAHP and/or the Tribal governments may assign a person, or provide a list of professional archeologists that can be contracted, to monitor response activities and cleanup operations for the protection of cultural resources at risk.  Due to the sensitive nature of such information, details  regarding the location and type of cultural resources present are not included in this document.

Cultural Resources Contacts 

Contact Phone Email
Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, THPO (360) 267-0731

(360) 267-8212

edavis@shoalwaterbay-nsn.gov Tjohnson@shoalwaterbay-nsn.gov
Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic

Preservation (DAHP)

(360) 586-3080

(360) 480-6922

Rob.Whitlam@dahp.wa.gov Allyson.Brooks@dahp.wa.gov
Quinalt Indian Tribe, THPO (360) 276-8211 x1329 fsharp@quinault.org dbingaman@quinault.org
U.S. Fisheries Willapa National Wildlife Refuge (360) 484-3482


jackie_ferrier@fws.gov terri_butler-bates@fws.gov
The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, THPO (503) 879-2424 nrd@grandronde.org

Discovery of Human Skeletal Remains

Any human remains, burial sites, or burial-related materials that are discovered during a spill response must be treated with respect at all times (photographing human remains is prohibited to all except the appropriate authorities). Refer to National Historic Preservation Act Compliance Guidelines (NWACP Section 9403) during an emergency response.

Procedures for the Discovery of Cultural Resources

If any person monitoring work activities or involved in spill response believes that they have encountered cultural resources, all workers must stop immediately and notify the Unified Command and Cultural Resource Specialist. The area of work stoppage must be adequate to provide for the security, protection, and integrity of the material or artifact(s) discovered.

Prehistoric Cultural Resources (May include, but are not limited to, any of the following items):

  • Lithic debitage (stone chips and other tool-making byproducts)
  • Flaked or ground stone tools
  • Exotic rock, minerals, or quarries
  • Concentrations of organically stained sediments, charcoal, or ash
  • Fire-modified rock
  • Rock alignments or rock structures
  • Bone (burned, modified, or in association with other bone, artifacts, or features)
  • Shell or shell fragments
  • Petroglyphs and pictographs
  • Fish weirs, fish traps, and prehistoric water craft
  • Culturally modified trees
  • Physical locations or features (traditional cultural properties)
  • Submerged villages sites or artifacts

Historic cultural material (May include any of the following items over 50 years old):

  • Bottles, or other glass
  • Cans
  • Ceramics
  • Milled wood, brick, concrete, metal, or other building material
  • Trash dumps
  • Homesteads, building remains
  • Logging, mining, or railroad features
  • Piers, wharves, docks, bridges, dams, or shipwrecks
  • Shipwrecks or other submerged historical objects

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Economic Resources at Risk – Summary

Socio-economic sensitive resources are facilities or locations that rely on a body of water to be economically viable. Because of their location, they could be severely impacted if an oil spill were to occur. Economically sensitive resources are separated into three categories: critical infrastructure, water dependent commercial areas, and water dependent recreation areas. The appendix provides a list of economic resources for this GRP area.

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General Information

Flight Restriction Zones: The Environmental Unit (Planning Section) may recommend flight restriction zones to minimize disturbance or injury to wildlife during an oil spill. Pilots/operators can decrease the risk of aircraft/bird collisions, prevent the accidental driving of wildlife into oiled areas, and minimize abandonment of nests by keeping a safe distance and altitude from these identified sensitive areas.

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The Air Operations Branch (Operations Section) will manage all aircraft operations related to a response and will coordinate the establishment of any Flight Restriction Zones as appropriate. Environmental Unit staff will work with the Air Operations Branch Director to resolve any conflicts that arise between flight activities and sensitive resources. In addition to restrictions associated with wildlife, Tribal authorities may also request notification when overflights are likely to affect culturally sensitive areas within reservations. See Oil Spill Best Management Practices (NWACP Section 9301) for more information on the use of aircraft and helicopters in open water and shoreline responses.

Wildlife Deterrence: The Wildlife Deterrence Unit within the Wildlife Branch (Operations Section) manages wildlife deterrence operations. These are actions intended to minimize injuries to wildlife by keeping animals away from the oil and cleanup operations. Deterrence activities may include using acoustic or visual deterrent devices, boats, aircraft or other tools. The Wildlife Branch works with state and federal agencies, and the Environmental Unit (Planning Section), to develop deterrence plans as appropriate.

For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310) and Northwest Area Wildlife Deterrence Resources (NWACP Section 9311).

Oiled Wildlife: Capturing oiled wildlife may be hazardous to both personnel and the affected animals. Incident personnel should not try to approach or capture oiled wildlife but should report any observations of oiled wildlife to the Wildlife Branch (Operations Section).

For more information see the Northwest Wildlife Response Plan (NWACP Section 9310).

Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness Areas: There are no federally designated wilderness areas present in this GRP region. The USWFS manages the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, located within the southwestern portion of the bay.

Aquatic Invasive Species: The waters of this region may contain aquatic invasive species (AIS) – species of plants and/or animals that are not native to an area and that can be harmful to an area’s ecosystem. If so, preventative actions may be required to prevent the spread of these species as a result of spill response activities and the Environmental Unit is able to recommend operational techniques and strategies to assist with this issue.

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